RTP Best Practices – Images and URL links

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As marketers we are well aware that fast loading websites are crucial for reducing bounce rates, increasing engagement, and ultimately driving lead generation and revenue.  So how do you maintain site speed when using Marketo’s web personalization campaigns?  A look at best practices for image use and links is a good place to start.

Where should I house images for use with my RTP campaigns? 

While you can host images in Marketo’s Design Studio, the preferred method of image hosting is via a Content Delivery Network, or CDN.  This is because content hosted on a CDN is loaded very quickly.

What’s a CDN?

Wikipedia describes it as follows: A content delivery network or content distribution network (CDN) is a globally distributed network of proxy servers deployed in multiple data centers. The goal of a CDN is to serve content to end-users with high availability and high performance.

It’s the globally distributed aspect of these networks that helps to speed up content load time. This article on the Best Content Delivery Network (CDN) Providers sums up how CDN’s work: “A content delivery network (CDN) helps speed up your website in part by shortening the distance between the person visiting your site and the server delivering the content. Your site, or at least some of the elements of your site are distributed and cached on servers across the globe. That way, whether someone is accessing your site from Australia, China, the U.S. or the U.K., they are able to load your content from a local server instead of having to wait for it to be provided by your origin server. This can have a significant impact on load times while also reducing the strain on your hosting server.”

And with CDN’s rise in popularity, there are vendors to fit every size and pocketbook – including vendors that provide the service for free.

I’ve got my images hosted – how do I link to them in RTP campaigns?

A best practice is to change all links to be protocol-relative - this means removing the http: or https.  And don’t just do this for image URLs, make URLs used to link things like headline or body text and CTA buttons protocol-relative, too.

Here’s an example of a protocol-relative link for an image: //yourwebsite.com/images/image number-image name-image size.jpg

By keeping links relative you reduce potential mixed content issues that can be brought about when you have an insecure (http) resource within a secure (https) page. To put it simply, keeping the links relative ensures that images will render properly and that the user will not receive content related security warnings.

Something else to consider is that users with the standard web personalization roles do not have access to images stored in the Marketo Design Studio.  That means a user assigned the out of the box Web Campaign Editor or Launcher role won’t have access to Marketo Lead Management solution, including the Design Studio.  You can create a new role, tweak the existing role, or add additional privileges to these roles as a workaround.

Next time – RTP campaign testing tips.